There has been a marked change for the better in our existing, over-all approach towards the women. Gone are the days when their place was considered to be behind the four walls of the house and their only job was confined to looking after the household affairs. But now they can be seen working shoulder to shoulder with men in every sphere of life.
We had a highly successful and efficient woman Prime Minister, late Mrs. Indira Gandhi, in addition to having many women governors and Chief Ministers. And even in our own time, there is no dearth of women judges, lawyers, doctors, administrators, police officers and engineers.
This is, undoubtedly, a good sign and an indication of their emancipation. This has, however, increased the workload of working women manifold. They attend to their official juries and after eight hours of testing and nerve-breaking office duty, return home to a different kind of job.
It is a common sight to see them hurrying back from their offices in the evening only to enter the kitchen at home and cook for the family and attend to other domestic chores. It is the same picture in rural areas. After toiling on the farms, they go back home to do all the household chores.
The men, whether in the urban or in the rural areas, seldom help in the household tasks. This situation exists because men regard themselves as superior in mental and physical power to women. Similarly, women too have been made to accept their subordinate position. However, it is rather surprising that this type of wrong thinking has not changed with the changing times.
This attitude of superiority on the part of men has caused many problems for working women. In offices, though they are selected to important positions, they often have to prove themselves doubly competent in order to get a promotion. Again their absence from duty or late arrival is frowned upon, whereas the same lapse in a male colleague is, generally, ignored and over-looked.
Even in day-to-day routine-life, women have to face a host of problems because the basic attitude towards them still remains unchanged. Customs which downgrade the position of women have yet to be overcome. The dowry system is one such custom. If the girl’s parents are unable to arrange for it, the girl is harassed or sent back to her parental home or sometimes even burnt to death.
Another area where women have yet to get equality is in property matters. The law has been changed to provide equal property rights to the son and daughter in a family. But this is only on paper, and the daughter gracefully relinquishes her share in the property. If she insists on getting it, she is forced to go to court, for it is seldom given as a matter of right.
The very birth of a female member in a family is still an occasion to mourn, whereas the birth of a son is celebrated with great pomp and show. The present ‘uplifted’ status of women has put them between the devil and the deep sea.
Or, one hand, they seem to have been liberated to the extent that they are working outside, side by side with men, but, on the other hand, they have to face a number of problems because of this very fact. What are the solutions to these problems?
The law has, however, been amended in favour of women in many cases. Thus eave-teasing in public places, harassment in office, the dowry problem, property rights etc. can be dealt with in the court, yet the basic problem would remain unsolved. This is related to the attitude of the people, and unless this is changed, women, on the whole, would remain deprived of their rights as well as justice.
Educational institutions can help by teaching equality of the sexes through the lessons. Further, the family too should not be biased and give the same kind of upbringing to the sons and daughter Boys should be made to help as much as the girls in domestic chores.
The mass media should also project the picture of the women as an equal with man, having the same desired ambitions and intelligence. True liberation of women possible only when our over-all attitude is changed.